I Grew Up Not Knowing Half of My Family

I Grew Up Not Knowing Half of My Family

I know who you are, do you know who I am?

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Before I was born, my dad was disowned by his mother as an adult. Because of this, I grew up only knowing my mom's side of the family. While all of my other friends and peers discussed which set of grandparents they were going to see on Thanksgiving or how many Christmases they had to attend, I only ever had one of each.

When I was in high school, I remember doing a family tree in Spanish class. I remember I could write down every single person on my mom's side without hesitation, but when I got to my dad's side, I just put a question mark because I had no idea who was in his side of the family. I remember being curious all day that day and coming home from school finally asking questions about my unknown family members. My parents explained what happened to our family: years before I was born, my dad wouldn't do something for my grandmother, so she essentially disowned him and even though I knew in my heart that it wasn't my fault (I mean I didn't even exist yet, how could it be my fault?), I subconsciously blamed myself for years for my broken family. I found myself going above and beyond trying to get their attention, looking high and low for years wanting them to get to know me. I realized much later on through therapy that it was never my fault, but it was hard not to blame myself because I felt so abandoned.

It was all unsuccessful.

I never got to know the ones who disowned me before I was born. I found their homes and tried ringing doorbells with no answer for several years. I sent letters, emails, and Facebook messages from high school through college, until my sophomore year of college. I found out during the spring semester of my sophomore year of college that my grandmother on my dad's side had died, leaving this blank hole in me that I was afraid would never be filled.

I was wrong, it made me stronger and opened up relationships between me and new family members from my dad's side that I had only dreamed of meeting one day. Most of all, it made realize how grateful I am for the family members I do know and have always been in my life.

When I started searching for my dad's family, I put so much value on those relatives that I didn't know instead of valuing the ones who have been by me since birth, like the grandparents I have who raised not just my mom but me too, not the grandmother who didn't want to even open a door for me. I learned through my journey how incredibly thankful I am for such loving family members who have stuck with me through thick and thin rather than just giving up on me when times get tough. Most of all, I am thankful for the support my family has given me throughout this journey.

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To The Dad Who Didn't Want Me, It's Mutual Now

Thank you for leaving me because I am happy.
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Thank you, for leaving me.

Thank you, for leaving me when I was little.

Thank you, for not putting me through the pain of watching you leave.

Thank you, for leaving me with the best mother a daughter could ask for.

I no longer resent you. I no longer feel anger towards you. I wondered for so long who I was. I thought that because I didn't know half of my blood that I was somehow missing something. I thought that who you were defined me. I was wrong. I am my own person. I am strong and capable and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

In my most vulnerable of times, I struggled with the fact that you didn't want me. You could have watched me grow into the person that I have become, but you didn't. You had a choice to be in my life. I thought that the fact that my own father didn't want me spoke to my own worth. I was wrong. I am so worthy. I am deserving, and you have nothing to do with that. So thank you for leaving me.

You have missed so much. From my first dance to my first day of college, and you'll continue to miss everything. You won't see me graduate, you won't walk me down the aisle, and you won't get to see me follow my dreams. You'll never get that back, but I don't care anymore. What I have been through, and the struggles that I have faced have brought me to where I am today, and I can't complain. I go to a beautiful school, I have the best of friends, I have an amazing family, and that's all I really need.

Whoever you are, I hope you read this. I hope you understand that you have missed out on one of the best opportunities in your life. I could've been your daughter. I could have been your little girl. Now I am neither, nor will I ever be.

So thank you for leaving me because I am happy. I understand my self-worth, and I understand that you don't define me. You have made me stronger. You have helped make me who I am without even knowing it.

So, thank you for leaving me.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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True Tales Of Growing Up In A BIG Family

Spoiler alert, I get tackled a lot.

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I was born into a fairly large family. I have upwards of twenty-something first cousins, many of who are around the same age as me. It has honestly been both a blessing and a curse to have so many people around me all the time. Some of my favorite memories come from family gatherings where all of my cousins were there. However, since most of my cousins are male, there has also been a lot of physical violence where people get hurt, even if the intentions were innocent. I have so many stories about my family, some of which I won't share here because they are a little bit inappropriate, but others are too good not to share.

The first story I want to share is from this past Easter. Most of my cousins on my Dad's side were at my Papa's house celebrating the holiday. There was so much food we could probably feed a small army. Some of the older cousins decided that we were going to play a game of whiffle ball. All of the cousins who were playing were at least sixteen and some of them were much older. Many of us had or are playing sports in High School or College so this game of whiffle ball got extremely competitive very fast. I ended up being the Umpire/pitcher because I played softball for so long. The game ended with my brothers winning and my other cousins upset that they lost, but it was still one of the memories I will cherish the most even though I definitely threw out my shoulder pitching.

I can remember playing a game of football on Thanksgiving when I was young (maybe five or six). This game, not unlike the whiffle ball game we played at Easter, got super competitive super fast to the point where even I, as a six-year-old, was being pushed and tackled to the ground by much older boys. I honestly can't remember much about that game, maybe I got hit in the head too much, but I do remember having so much fun playing with my cousins.

I've been on a cruise two times in my life, both times with my extended family. One cruise was to Mexico when I was very little. What I remember about that cruise was getting extremely sea sick and that the cleaning staff would make towel monkey on our beds. The cruise was to Alaska when I was a lot older, I think I was fifteen. Since I and my cousins were much older on that cruise, we caused a lot more trouble and were able to get away with it. Every night we would go to the pool and swim. Then, we would go to the buffet and only eat pineapples and mac and cheese. We, also, may have or may not have gone into a bar to sing karaoke. While the cruise was fun, I wouldn't have had such a great time if I wasn't with my family.

While sometimes they can be a pain, having so much family has taught me a lot about communication and playing right. Again, I only have scratched the surface here in regards to the plentiful stories I have, many of which are so much funnier. I love my family so much and I would never trade that in for the world.

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